Re: [xmca] Copernicus, Darwin and Bohr

From: Eirik Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Mon Jun 25 2007 - 06:43:42 PDT

Thanks David K,

Maybe there simply was no good reason (in 19th century Russia) to be offended
by the (Darwinistic) dethronement of Western anthropocentrism? Just a thought.
History, according to Berdyaev, is the story of man’s dehumanization, the story
of how man came to lose that spirit that makes him uniquely man.


On 2007-06-24, at 03:03, David Kellogg wrote:
> Dear Erik and Mike:
> Erik makes the main point I wanted to make far better than my own
maunderings did. It was precisely that the grandiose epistemological and
philosophical and even political meanings that we often attach to particular
scientific breakthroughs tend to reflect our own ontological predispositions
and philosophical predilections rather than any thorough assimilation of the
technological breakthrough at hand.
> The Russian affinity for Darwinism reflects, as Erik says, the atmosphere
of anticipation in late 19th Century Russia rather than any deep understanding
of the precise mechanism that Darwin was proposing. But of course the same
could be said of the Western distaste for Darwin.
> In fact, we can even say the same for Darwin's own phrase "natural
selection". Janet pointed out that this particular expression was
anthropomorphic, and it was for that reason that Darwin, via Wallace, began to
use the phrase "survival of the fittest" (and of course this has been found to
be tautological by people who do not differentiate between species, organisms,
phenotypes and genotypes). Darwin's own understanding of his theory is deeply
colored by Malthus and political economy, and this was one of the reasons why
it could be so easily picked up by Spencer (who actually coined the
phrase "survival of the fittest").
> I don't mean to change the subject, but I think that another weakness of
the "toolforthoughts" approach is that it at least potentially constricts LSV's
concept of mediation to intellectual concepts. Mediation was also part of LSV's
vision of emotional development, as Gunilla Lindqvist's article (2000) makes
very clear.
> "Tools" are not artworks. LSV (2004, based on a previous discussion in
Ribot) divides creativity into four basic types:
> a) combinatorial (the creation of unicorns, manticores, dragons, imaginary
friends, huts on chicken legs). Here the child is simply juxtaposing actual
aspects of experience in new ways.
> b) reconstructive (the way children conceptualize experiences they have
NEVER had, such as the children in Thinking and Speech Chapter Five who
imagined that serf-owners lived in ten story houses with electricity). Here
there is a "reality check" function that makes the child's creativity socially
shareable with adults.
> c) emotional (the way children use creativity to control their emotions and
even create new ones, such as the child who uses Harry Potter or Tom Sawyer to
imagine a world without parents and make it bearable).
> d) innovative (the way children use creativity to bring into being the kind
of objects that Popper associates with "World Three", music, drawing, drama,
> I see perfectly well how "tools" can mediate the kind of creativity we see
in a), b), and even d). But it's much less clear to me how tools (as opposed to
symbols) mediate the kind of creativity we see in c). In fact, I would argue
that in many ways the kinds of instant gratification we see developing in
computer based role-play games (and Hollywood movies such as "Pirates of the
Carribean") are INIMICAL to the development of higher emotions such as justice
out of rage, caution out of fear, empathy out of pain.
> There is always an interaction between a particular tool and its content,
and I do not think it is accidental that books evolved into novels, while web-
based games are evolving into long but only very narrowly interactive shopping
lists of monsters to kill, cars to hijack, prisoners to torture, women to
> So I'm inclined to impute the starry-eyed anticipation of people who
believe that web-based games will replace literacy altogether to the kind of
wildly innaccurate (because asocial) foresight which, twenty or thirty years
ago, imagined a world twenty or thirty years hence where people commute using
individual rocket belts.
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
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Received on Mon Jun 25 06:45 PDT 2007

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